Renewable Energy vs. The Bad Guys

We can all agree that technology is apart of our daily lives in some way or form. Whether it be with work, school, communication, interpretations and even understandings, some form of technology is present. Technology first began mobilizing towards the new age due to a reliable need for simple things such as food, shelter and protection. Although that ideal has been significantly manipulated over time, technology advancements are still a vital factor with helping the human race obtain and utilize resources to sustain the success of our species. Its main objective is to replace the excessive work of humans and to make things more easier for us. However, to create and maintain these technologies, it takes up too much of the wrong types of energy, in our opinion. Other species before us were afraid to excessively use basic energy such as fire and water for the fear of it running out, or too much of it hurting them. Cavemen were scared of wells running dry and their simple cooking fires taking over the whole forest and destroying their communities. Therefore everything was in moderation. The homo erectus species were the first species to have controlled use of fire. They developed methods such as rubbing stones against each other to create sparks that would develop into fires for basic survival essentials such as cooking and shelter.  This idea stemmed from their creation of stone tools to use for hunting etc. and they did this with a brain 2/3rd the size of ours (Smithsonian, 2015) Now, millions of years later, flames are lit all over the world carelessly for any reason, almost every second of the day. Instead of spending a good portion of our day creating sparks to cook food, we now rub our thumbs against a piece of metal that creates a flame from a lighter. These lighters are now used for much more then cooking and shelter. We smoke, we light chemical induced candles, fire crackers or burn garbage and fuel factories etc. By abusing the use of fire, we add to air pollution due to the high levels of carbon monoxide released with each flame lit. Instead of technology finding ways to minimize the use of fire. it has found ways to abuse fire as well as a variety of other natural resources. How is it possible that 71% of the earths surface is covered  by water, with 96.5% of that being strictly from the oceans (Smithsonian, 2015), yet year after year in Los Angeles there are droughts causing residents to limit their use of water and not be able to hydrate their plants, tress and grass; Keep in mind, this is one of the most celebrity populated regions of the world.

Fire and water are just the nutshell. Technology giant Apple Inc. has consistently undergone various lawsuits as well as environmental violation cases regarding the impact their products have on the environment. Most recently, various Apple Inc. factories in China had to be closed down due to their ” environmental violations including significant amounts of aluminum-magnesium alloy shreddings on their floors and surrounding areas outside the factory, which are being consumed by wildlife in the area as well as being absorbed into the air due to the humidity levels along with dust particles in the air, lack of proper ventilation, inadequate personal protective equipment for handling toxic materials and dumping of industrial fluids and waste into groundwater and nearby rivers(Purnell, Dou, Wakabayashi, 2014). On the outside, Apple Inc,. presents itself as an organization meant to supply technologies to improve a persons daily life through Macbooks, phones, Ipads, digital and more. They popularized themselves off their cloud sharing inventions and sleek designs containing such massive digital capabilities, however the only thing they are sharing is their waste. Fossil fuels were established to flourish and sustain that flourishment through technological advancements, but in turn, it has contributed significantly to pollution, excessive use of electricity due to the amount of power that is required to use their products and the deterioration of earth, that people are so dependent on these technologies, they don’t know anything else. They can’t picture a life without it. People now feel it’s the norm to use electricity to light their houses in the night, as oppose to the “trendy new way”, through solar panels. Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady have more recently began promoting energy efficient methods such as renovating their houses to run on complete solar power and have also visibly reduced their excessive overuse of water (Collman, 2012).

jessica simpson
Fig 1: Jessica Simpson and Eric Johnson’s property still gets hydrated regardless of the city issuing fines for overuse  of water due to droughts. Notice how green their property is vs. the surrounding property land (Collman, 2012).

jennifer aniston
Fig 2: Jennifer Aniston has pulled out a water-sucking vineyard on her property and planted succulents across
          her lawn which thrive in the arid Southern California climate (Collman, 2012).

julia roberts
Fig 3: Energy-efficient solar panels on Julia Robert’s roof blend well with her architectural designs (Collman, 2012).

The true wicked problem with this situation is that politics are always involved with technology, because technology requires money and power. If the government doesn’t think there’s a problem, then they don’t focus their energies on it. Politicians enjoy flying in private jets, staying in exclusive villas, and only signs bills and acts with thousands of dollars worth of whiskey and champagne, therefore they increase various citizen taxes so they can enjoy these luxuries. Instead they offer a tax rebate amounting to a minimal fraction of the total cost of solar panels to only home owners that qualify, therefore not everyone is guaranteed a rebate. What about people who rent, since renters make up a larger portion of our population, or condominium owners? The installation of solar panels is expensive and it’s just more feasible to the government on both a home front as well as on a global platform, to exploit the use of fossil fuels. If they made certain cut backs in certain areas, in the long run, more funds would be available to invest into renewable energies such as solar power and promote it as the new norm. However, with over 66 million tones of coal produced yearly (Stone, 2012), Canada is making way too much money to consider this right now.

The following news link entitled The fight over the future of renewable energy in Ontario” explains the pros and cons as well as the government’s influence on renewable energy, what they have done to show their doing something as well as the reality of what they really are doing (Brady, 2011).

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/the-fight-over-the-future-of-renewable-energy-in-ontario-1.1054614

So how can technology be used to help us sustain life instead of deplete life?

As we noticed with the TBL Simulator game, it can be difficult to maintain and sustain a regular life based of our current habits in the environment. This game is very interactive, however not as user friendly as we would have liked as it did take all of us a while to understand how to progress and not die. After we got the hang of things and started playing the simulator we realized how difficult it was to balance the Triple Bottom Line. This week’s main topic was energy and it took a lot of tools and patience in order to find an appropriate medium, as energy is a main tool in both the simulator and our real lives. To produce energy you must create various factories and other pollutant producing industrial units which takes a toll on the environment. We all consistently ran out of money in the beginning we each ran out of funds very quickly while playing the simulator as we couldn’t establish balance for too long and found it very challenging with the budget and planning aspects. This is obviously the harsh reality of things. Games like this are not only important, but can be very profitable as it directs awareness to a specific area as oppose to the environment overall.

The TBL Simulator is a real eye opener and the correlation between keeping your balance in the game vs. keeping balance in your everyday life, with energy being a need not a want in today’s techno-infused world. Trying to build nuclear power plants and set up industrial power stations while balancing the ratio of how many you build and how you build it with the budget you’re provided with, could have an effect on your ecosystem. The general consensus is that although fossil fuels are more readily available, opting for energy produced from renewables such as wind turbines and solar panels would be a cleaner option. Playing this game made us realize that there are always better options. This simulator really compliments the general notion about renewables and the first axiom of sustainability stating that “Any society that continues to use critical resources unsustainably will collapse. Exception: A society can avoid collapse by finding replacement resources” (Heinberg, 2012). It also showed us that if we make forward choices and make a serious effort to improve our daily habits, energy savings realities are very possible. We might not be able to save our planet completely, but we can get back to that mentality that other human species first introduced us to; That it is possible to use our natural resources to sustain our energy levels on this planet, and still be happy and content.

The following link entitled 10 things you should know about investment in renewable energy” have experts sharing their thoughts on how to increase investment in renewables amid falling prices, policy uncertainty and emerging technology (Paddison, 2014).

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/investment-renewables-10-things-climate-change

SHOUT OUT:

Nike, Inc. is an American multinational corporation that is engaged in the design, development, manufacturing and worldwide marketing and sales of footwear, apparel, equipment, accessories and services (2015, Wikipedia). The link below is a video explaining how they plan on transforming their entire functionality and production to renewables by 2025 (Jones, 2014). We give them a big shout out for their efforts in recognizing their carbon footprints and doing something about it!!!!!

http://www.complex.com/sneakers/2015/09/nike-renewable-energy-2025

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